Isabella took the lead and introduced me to several of her classmates. At four-and-a-half, I’d say she was more than ready to start kindergarten in September. I was reading at a small Reggio Emilia-inspired school in Northern New Jersey.
I’ve had the opportunity to read at many different types of schools to what is now thousands of children. My experiences from private, various religious, public and specialty schools, such as those that teach children with autism, have all yielded positive experiences – for both the children and for me.
As a parent, you don’t always recognize the dynamics of your child’s classroom. Having family members with professions in the education system, I understand how school administrators try to balance classrooms based on children’s abilities and personalities.
Now when I enter a classroom, I can more easily see the dynamics and how children of different personality types interact with each other. An Isabella exists in almost every class in every school. The boldly outspoken personality seems to blanket the classroom. They take charge and are quite comfortable taking the lead in expressing themselves.
There will always be two girls who are best friends and must sit next to each other. Equally, there will be two boys who will converse for a portion of the visit, but eventually settle down and focus on the story. The shy child who does not feel comfortable sharing exists in every class, too.
One of the classrooms I visited this day consisted of only boys. I’d never been in a classroom where this scenario existed. Wow, I thought, this teacher must be awesome if she can manage a class of just young boys.
Sometimes when I walk into a room, the energy hits me like a baseball bat. It’s those moments when I know the reading will be a little more challenging.
I immediately recognized the teacher’s very calm demeanor. Her smiling face and tranquil voice let the kids know the captain of their ship was in control. There was energy in the room, but it was a controlled energy.
The teacher informed me that the two girls in the class happened to be absent that day. While I felt badly that the two were home sick, it turned out to be wonderful.
Positioned in the reading area of the class was a large pastel colored sofa. Normally I sit on the floor with the children I’m reading to, but since this was a much smaller group, we all piled onto the large couch. For a moment, I felt like Loonette, from the children’s TV show, The Big Comfy Couch.
I sat in the middle flanked by the preschoolers who were so attentive and engaged in the story. They asked questions, pointed at pictures, and laughed at parts of the story they found amusing. They were wonderful listeners. The reading couldn’t have gone any better.
We talked about an animal you wouldn’t want to sleep with – T-Rex is the hands-down favorite for boys everywhere!
This reading took place in May, five years ago. It’s just one of the experiences I’ve had while reading to children that is etched a little deeper in my mind than others. As I was saying goodbye, one of the boys wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. The class had recently done a potted plant project for their moms, and he remembered. How precious is that?